The Early History of
Tripp's Park, Hyde Park, and Providence
Scranton, Pennsylvania


By Roy Whitman


The early history of Tripp's Park and surrounding Providence and Hyde Park is very rich and vivid. The area originally came into conflict in a dispute between Connecticut and Pennsylvania both of which laid some claim to the land based on their English charters and subsequent agreements with the Indian tribes. The earliest meeting between the English settlers and the Indians took place at Albany in 1654. Known as the meeting of the Six Nations, it was here that the Indians ceded the land to the Susquehanna Company of Connecticut although Pennsylvanian representatives were present. Subsequently surveyors were sent out and they laid out seventeen townships in what later became Luzerne County. One of these townships, of which the city of Scranton is a part, was called Providence and it was formally laid out in 1770. Being five miles square, it was subdivided into 40 lots each roughly 400 acres large. A drawing for each of these lots was held in Connecticut since they were technically part of Westmoreland of the County of Litchfield, Connecticut. Pennsylvania was angered by this encroachment on what they saw as their territory and attempted to drive out the newcomers. Pennsylvania laid claim to the land by the terms of the Treaty of Fort Stanwix (November 5, 1768) by which Pennsylvania purchased the Wyoming Valley from the Indian tribes.

Isaac Tripp of Warwick, Rhode Island, referred to as "Squire" Tripp due to his extensive buying and selling of real estate, was named as one of the proprietors of the Susquehanna Company in 1761. In 1762 an attempt was made to settle the Wyoming Valley and the area around what became Providence Township, but the newcomers were driven out by the Indians and the authorities in Pennsylvania in 1763. This singular event touched off the first Pennymite War between the settlers under Connecticut title and the Pennsylvania proprietors. (The second Pennymite War occurred after the Revolutionary War and because of a decision by the commission appointed by the new Congress to decide ownership of the land that went in favor of Pennsylvania). Later in 1768, Isaac Tripp along with Ezra Dean were appointed to head a committee for Rhode Island to admit the first 200 settlers under the Connecticut title to the Wyoming Valley. On February 8, 1769 Isaac Tripp arrived in the Wyoming Valley with his first 40 settlers. In 1771, he laid claim to some 6000 acres in the Valley and in 1774 formally purchased property, roughly 375 acres, in "the sixth town of ye Capoose Meadows." It was on this site that he constructed his home, what today is called the Tripp Homestead located at 1011 N. Main Avenue in Scranton and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

On June 2, 1773, just before the American Revolutionary War, the Susquehanna Company appointed Gideon Baldwin, Timothy Keys, and Isaac Tripp as proprietors of the township Providence. Isaac Tripp was later killed during the Wyoming Massacre (July 3, 1778) by marauding Indians while visiting the Slocums after the Indian abduction of his granddaughter, Frances Slocum. In 1782 an inventory of his estate revealed that he had disposed of much of his property, but that 957 acres remained. Six hundred acres went to his son Isaac Tripp II, which later was passed to successive generations, including Benjamin S. Tripp and Ira Tripp. Ira Tripp was particularly influential in Scranton and, in fact, was named as one of the councilmen when the village of Providence was incorporated as a borough on March 4, 1849.

Not to be outdone, the nearby village of Hyde Park was incorporated as a borough on May 4, 1852 with Benjamin S. Tripp named as one of its councilmen. It wasn't until 1866 that both Tripp's Park and Hyde Park were made part of Scranton proper. Originally, Hyde Park was a small settlement just adjacent to Tripp's Park and founded by Joseph Fellows. The exact boundary between Tripp's Park and Hyde Park is unclear. Much of the land came into the possession of the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad Company during the mid- nineteenth-century. One section of the area was deeded to the Honorable John R. Farr in December 1899. The area was 56 acres of prime real estate in the heart of Tripp's and Hyde Parks bounded by Dorothy Street and Cemetery Street (today West Gibson Street) and North Main Avenue and the Keyser Valley. A street named in honor of Farr runs parallel to and between Dorothy Street and West Gibson Street. John R. Farr was an influential Republican legislator who later became Speaker of the House (1899) in Pennsylvania. He eventually subdivided his 56 acres, known as "Farr's Ideal Home Sites," and sold individual parcels to individual investors. Main Avenue, once the thriving commercial and entertainment center of Scranton, runs entirely along the sections of Providence, Tripp's Park, and Hyde Park from North Scranton to deep into the West Side.

Sources:

History of Scranton, Penn. by H.W. Crew. United Brethren Publishing House. Dayton, Ohio, 1891.

History of the Lackawanna Valley by H. Hollister, M.D. Second Edition. New York, C.A. Alvard, 1869.

The History and Geography of Scranton and It's Vicinity by Dr. H. Elizabeth Williams, Scranton. Scranton Public Schools.

Scranton, Once Upon A Time by Nicholas Petula, 1985.

Scranton, Illustrated. Published in Twelve Parts by H.R. Page & Co., 1890.


Copyright 2000 Roy Whitman; All Rights Reserved

Contributed to "WHITMANIA!" by Roy Whitman of Scranton, PA.
Roy's web site "My Brother's Tree" is about to go offline. The web site details the Whitman family along the lines of Valentine Whitman. He has graciously donated his information and transferred it to Whitmania! for safekeeping so that the Whitman data will be located in one place.
Thank you Roy!

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